Let’s say you’re a highly intelligent, extremely accomplished married mother of two. Let’s further say that you are, fairly or unfairly, considered a hero and a role model because of the work that you do as an astronaut in our national Space Program. Let’s still further say that you have, as a woman, broken through a pink/glass ceiling in your field. So what on earth would possess you to don a diaper, gather a limp assortment of potential weaponry, drive nine hundred miles, slide into a trench coat and wig, stalk a woman thirteen years your junior to her car, and pepper spray her?
The headlines are appalling: “Astro-Nut,” “Space Cadet,” and “Lust in Space” flash across the television and internet (and probably newspaper for those of you who read them. Nudging Snuggles). How embarrassing. And all over the supposed love of or perhaps for a man who is “more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship,” whatever that means.
So let’s look at this case. According to the news reports that I couldn’t turn off last night, this astronaut has some sort of mental break (it HAS to be, right? who does that?) and drives from Houston to Orlando (about 900 miles according to CNN) in order to confront the woman she believes is involved with another astronaut that she herself claims not to be involved with. Hmmm. In addition, she packs along a BB gun and a four inch pocket knife (presumably, I think, the reason she didn’t fly), along with some rubber piping, rubber gloves, and whatever all else. She’s not on the DL, though, because she uses her own name and credit card to check into a hotel, and she must have stopped for gas along the way, too–so why not use the bathroom like a normal person? They found two, that’s two, used diapers in her car! It seems they were “special” astronaut diapers. Like that makes it okay or normal or even almost okay or nearly normal.
She was initially charged with attempted first degree murder which, given my extensive training in literature, I’d guess can’t stick because she had a friggin’ BB gun and a teensy little knife, not exactly your typical murder weapons of choice. And she DID choose them, AND she drove all the way or really half way across the country, so she had time to think this through. Very strange. Obviously, she is unhinged, right? But SO sad that it has to be over a man. And that she has to act that crazy–I mean who does that? And that she has two kids. And a husband. And that she didn’t pack a hairbrush or a lipstick along with her rubber hose and steel mallet.
Now NASA is going to review its screening process so they don’t end up with unstable nut jobs circling the earth for years at a time (the next Mars mission is supposed to last two years), but you know what that means, they’re going to closely screen all the female applicants and err on the side of caution, thus limiting the number of already limited women in the Space Program. It’s such a shame, really, and I truly hope that it doesn’t happen that way. But I fear that it will.